Most chefs, like fashion designers, are easily influenced and inspired by those who have gone before them and by the greater world around them. We learn, we adapt, we modify and improve upon the food we eat and even read about. We’re inspired by our environment, our location and even the weather. Basically, like fashion, there is very little “new” in the cooking world unless you are someone like Ferran Adria whipping up a liquid olive in a fit of molecular gastronomy. Cooking is reinterpreting the basics, over and over, in new combinations, to keep it interesting.
When I was looking for ideas for vegan dishes to make during the 21 day cleanse I did a few months ago, I came across dozens of recipes for soups/stews made with garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas). This recipe is not any one of those in particular, but certainly influenced by many of them. Nor is it “authentic” Moroccan cuisine, but rather inspired by the spices and ingredients commonly used in Morocco. I’d love to say it was inspired by my travels to Morocco, but alas, my two days there in 1999 were not much more “authentic Morocco” than going to Tijuana is “authentic Mexico.” I actually don’t remember much special about the food in Tangiers, but that just makes me want to return to see (and eat) more of Morocco some day.
This stew is hearty and filling by itself and because of the garbanzo beans, has plenty of protein. One half cup of garbanzos has 110 calories and 6 grams of protein. The recipe below is completely vegan, though I’ll admit I served it with some home made sausages (cooked on the side) which were a nice accompaniment. I also highly recommend you serve it with cous cous which is one of the fastest and easiest things to make (5 minutes from pot to plate, seriously).
How to Grind Cardamom:
The recipe calls for ground cardamom, and if you have some whole cardamom pods, it’s worth the extra time it takes to get the seeds out and grind them yourself. The fragrance is nothing short of incredible and blows the doors off the stuff in the bottle. Instructions below.
Clockwise from top left; Crush the pods until they break apart. Pull out the seed covers until you have nothing left but the tiny black/brown cardamom seeds. Grind them in a spice grinder until fine.
2 Tbsp Cardamom Pods=1/2 Tbsp Cardamom Seeds=1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
Many thanks to the lovely Chef Gwen Walters who enlightened me to this process in her blog post about cardamom. I filed it away in my head and knew I’d use it someday. Again, we are influenced by what we see.